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Paine: Ellis should be in Australia's first-choice T20 attack

The Tasmania and Hobart Hurricanes quick has been a consistent performer when given a chance

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
30-May-2024
Former Australia captain Tim Paine believes Nathan Ellis should be in Australia's first-choice attack for the T20 World Cup 2024 with a decision then made between Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
Ellis, 29, has struggled to command a regular spot in Australia's T20 side despite impressive returns in the 14 matches he has played - only one of which has come at home. He was a reserve for the 2021 T20 World Cup in UAE when Australia won the title and did not make the squad on home soil in 2022.
"I think Australia have a great opportunity, and I hope they take it in this World Cup, and that is to pick Nathan Ellis. He would be my third quick," Paine, who played for Ellis' state Tasmania, told ESPN's Around The Wicket. "I think he just complements the other guys really well, he's got a different skillset, comes from a different angle, different height, and think some variety in the attack will be really important to win this World Cup."
"I know you are going to ask me straightaway who aren't you playing…I'm going to go Mitchell Starc, [he] is my out and out number one quick, I'm picking him, obviously going with Adam Zampa, and I'm doing to decide between Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
"I'm going to pick one of them and I'm going to go with Nathan Ellis' all-round skills, his ability to bowl all through the powerplay, I think his slower balls, he's clever. His international record for the opportunities that he's been given is outstanding and I think now is the right time…that's not to say they [Cummins and Hazlewood] are not the best couple of bowlers in the country, they are outstanding bowlers, and will continue to be, I just think Nathan Ellis complements the rest of that attack really, really well."
Starc finished the IPL in outstanding form with back-to-back player of match awards for champions Kolkata Knight Riders, Cummins was very consistent for Sunrisers Hyderabad who he captained and Hazlewood has put together some outstanding T20 performances when his schedule has allowed, including 3 for 16 in the 2021 final.
However, Ellis' numbers stack up well against them and he has been particularly strong in two tough phases of innings: the powerplay and the death. In all T20s since 2020 (domestic and international), Ellis has the second-best powerplay economy of those selected in the World Cup squad behind Hazlewood while at the death, where he has forged his reputation, he is the best of Australia's quicks by some margin having bowled far more at that stage than any of the others.
If Ellis plays, who should he replace?
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Mitchell Starc
Josh Hazlewood
Pat Cummins
Sorry, there just isn't room
Ellis featured just once for Punjab Kings in this season's IPL and took 1 for 24 in a rare win for the side that finished second bottom. In Australia's first warm-up match against Namibia he took 1 for 17 from his four overs.
There remains a chance that Australia try different combinations of bowling attacks through the group stage where they face Oman, England, Namibia and Scotland. Starc and Cummins only arrive into the Caribbean over the weekend when the squad travels to Barbados.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo